Laos Airlines runs domestic air services from Vientiane to Houayxai, Luang Nmatha, Luang Prabang, Oudomxai, Sam Neua and Sayabouti in the north and Pakse and Savanakhet in the south. The second Lao airline is Lao Air which flies 14-passenger Cessnas from Vientiane to Phongsali, Sam Neua and Sainyabuli several times a week.
The Mekong and other rivers are a vital part of the country’s transport system. The choice is between irregular (and very basic) slow ferries and exciting but noisy and hazardous speedboats. Both services run from Vientiane to Luang Prabang and Luang Prabang to Huay Xai. Ferries often depart early in the mornings and can take several days, whilst speedboats run more regularly and take approximately eight hours for each leg of the journey. Times and prices alter according to demand. There are also regular jet. Boats can also be hired privately.
Traffic drives on the right in Laos. Many of the roads have been paved in recent years, including the main highway from the Thai border at Savannakhet to the Vietnamese border. However, few main roads are suitable for all-weather driving. In the north of the country, there is a road link between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, and from Vientiane to Nam Dong and Tran Ninh.
Services link all major towns and cities. Buses can vary from air-conditioned to the more traditional type to the converted pickup truck.
Minibuses are quicker and more expensive, however that doesn't mean they are necessarily better. A typical VIP Bus is just an old bus by Western standards, and may be more prone to breakdowns, but they usually have more leg room which can make a long journey much more comfortable. Both types are usually air conditioned.
It is not recommended to rent cars in Laos as driving standards are low. However, it is possible to rent cars with a driver through hotels or tourist agencies.
Documentation: International Driving Permit recommended, although it is not legally required.
There is a mixture of old and metered taxis in Vientiane that can usually be located at Wattay Airport, the Friendship Bridge and the Morning market. Taxis can also be hired for approximately $20 per day.
Converted motorcycles, known as tuk-tuks or jumbos, are available in all major towns and cities and are perfect for shorter journeys around town. Bargaining is expected. Motorcycles and bicycles can be hired for the day in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and other places frequented by backpackers.